(26 February 2011) The new Blackmore's Night album is a 15-track one hour long collection entitled Autumn Sky (Spinefarm Records (USA), 2011). Since their formation in 1997, Blackmore's Night have released seven studio albums, eight commercial singles, two live DVDs and three compilation albums. The band have demonstrated a consistent evolution and expanded their repertoire beyond Renaissance Faire music into pop, rock and progressive stylings. Read our third Candice Night interview completed in February 2011.
Fronted by multi-instrumentalist and lead vocalist Candice Night, the Blackmore's Night lineup also includes: Ritchie Blackmore (guitars, renaissance drum, nyckelharpa, hurdy gurdy, mandola, mandolin), Bard David of Larchmont (keyboards, backing vocals), Gypsy Rose (violin, harmony vocals), Early Grey of Chimay (bass and rhythm guitar), Squire Malcolm of Lumley (percussion and drums) and Albert Danneman (renaissance woodwinds and vocals). Autumn Sky was produced by Pat Regan who also produced the orchestra scores. The album was mastered by Brad Vance and directed by Ritchie Blackmore. Candice Night contributes penny whistle, gemshorn, rauchpfife, shawms bombards, chanters, recorders as well as backing harmonies to the album.
Listeners will immediately hear two distinct developments on Autumn Sky. First, the arrangements are more robust with additional instrumental parts, especially dense in the more upbeat numbers and generally rockier. This is not to say that the musical diversity from the band's earlier projects has been lost. Instead, the range is broader, denser and deeper. Second, Candice's vocals are more mature; listeners will hear the power, range, emotion and overall savvy that has come from fifteen years of almost constant touring.
Two covers--"Celluloid Hero" originally by the Kinks and "Barbara Allen" that Richie used to sing when at school--are included on Autumn Sky. While the band have covered other artists' work previously, they are most well known for their unique rendition of Renaissance's "Ocean Gypsy" on their debut album. Blackmore's Night have put their own mark on the two new covers, the former being largely gentler than the original and the latter performed most delicately as a folk ballad by Candice atop only gentle acoustic guitar.
The album's opening track "Highland" is a rousing progressive rock track with rich instrumentals and a powerful superbly produced vocal lead. The band's development is clearly demonstrated in their performance.
Blackmore's Night is known for acoustic guitar-based folk music. Autumn Sky indeed has a new collection of these to please former and new enthusiasts alike. As fans will recall, Blackmore's Night toured with Mostly Autumn some years ago. The new tracks would be equally comfortable alongside folker Mostly Autumn tunes equally today. They include the warmly arranged "Vagabond" with extended instrumental passages, the warm ballad "Believe In Me" and whistle-laden instrumental "Journeyman (Vandraen)".
Celtic stylings emerge in the rhythm of "Sake Of The Song," fronted by Candice's crystalline vocal work while the instrumental "Song And Dance" builds on the Celtic rhythm with more robust arrangements. "Night At Eggersberg" is a lovely string-based instrumental. Blackmore's Night's traditional renaissance styling is driven home with string arrangements and vocal harmonies in "All The Fun Of The Fayre."
The rousing "Keeper Of The Flame" is an upbeat progressive number build on electric guitar and powerful vocal passages. Additional guitars and strings add to the rich texture the band deliver on the number. Lighter arrangements make "Strawberry Girl" an accessible folk rock number. Candice's delicately delivered lead vocal is backed with lovely harmonies.
Candice's whistle passages perfectly complement her crystalline voice in the folky track "Darkness." The track is perfectly balanced with "Dance Of The Darkness," a rousing instrumental that follows. A delicate ballad entitled "Health To The Company" precedes the album's concluding track "Barbara Allen."
Blackmore's Night have produced yet another outstanding and diverse collection of tracks to please both long time enthusiasts and new comers. The rich arrangements and
maturity of Candice Night's voice indeed take this album to the forefront of the band's extensive repertoire. Tremendous!